St Johns Buildings targets publicly funded work with three-way merger

Manchester set St Johns Buildings (SJB) is set to merge with Sheffield’s Paradise Chambers and Liverpool-based India Buildings Chambers.

The sets, which have all come under financial pressures as a result of drastic reduction in legal aid work, said the move would better enable the combined chambers to pitch for publicly funded work.

“Uncertainty prevails at the publicly funded bar and for solicitors and their lay clients,” said SJB head of chambers Michael Redfern QC. “SJB’s strategy is intended to address the need to work more closely with solicitors and their clients to deliver a high quality service in the most effective manner.”

In November, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced sweeping cuts to the legal aid budget and a reduction of 10 per cent in barrister fees on legal aid cases.

As part of the move Whitehall has introduced the ‘One Case One Fee’ policy. This is intended to support best value tendering in the publicly funded bar by encouraging sets to work closely with firms to bid for block contracts of work.

Sheffield-based Paradise Chambers is a 43-member set providing civil, criminal and family advice.

Head of chambers Paul Watson QC commented: “We firmly believe that as part of a large and professional organisation we’re better placed to meet the massive challenges which lie ahead for the legal profession in general and the bar in particular.”

India Buildings Chambers head Ray Herman agreed, adding: “The provision of legal services in all disciplines is undergoing a radical transformation. The merger with St Johns Buildings embraces the need for a forward thinking model.”